Lucas Pitman, BSILR '13
EEOC, Washington, DC
Fall semester 2012 marked a point in my undergraduate education where my theoretical knowledge of the working world and practical application of this knowledge came full circle. I had the privilege of serving as an Enforcement Intern with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C.
From the moment I entered the office, I was struck by the amount of responsibility I would assume and the intellectually challenging nature of my day-to-day activities. As an Enforcement Intern, I inherited real work; whether it was interviewing parties who wanted to file a charge of discrimination, shoring up loose ends with legal representation on either end of a discrimination dispute, or even meticulously drafting charges of alleged discrimination on behalf of aggrieved parties, I did it all. Aside from this honest hard work put into the internship, came the virtuous experience of developing lifelong friendships with fellow interns, supervisors and a host of other colleagues.
Simply, the most rewarding aspect of my experience was not the sense of importance of my responsibilities or the amazing friends I will always have, but the sense that I IMPACTED REAL PEOPLE AND REAL LIFE. Irrespective of one’s opinions of the role and scope of federal EEO laws, there was one common factor that bound this whole experience together, and that was that each and every person I interacted with during an in-take session had something in their life that was keeping them down. I was part of an organization that took a neutral stance on who was committing the wrong-doing and served as a righteous body for determining what was going on and how it should be reconciled. In the last in-take session I did every day, I watched as an aggrieved individual packed his or her bags and left and did so knowing that at the end of the day, justice would be served in some capacity, and that I played an integral role in this process. The aftermath of an EEO dispute reverberates throughout organizations and communities in a way that ought to have them understand that it is the basic decency of people that keeps order.
In June of 2009, a then graduate of Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Central High School I imagined taking a journey through college where I would ask myself, “I wonder how far my college degree will take me in the real world?” Well when this ILR Credit Internship Program beckoned, I answered the call. Immersing myself in the day-to-day responsibilities of a civil servant at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reaffirmed my contention that Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations has provided me with an incredible education that will take my professional career to the next level. Most importantly, my participation in the ILR curriculum in conjunction with the EEOC internship has focused my mind on the concept that while going through life I should do so with humility, compassion, optimism, discipline and a great sense of humor. To all considering an internship opportunity with the United States Equal Opportunity Commission, expect plenty of challenges and a tremendously valuable life experience.
- Lucas Pitman